#1399 dissent

As a journalism major in college, I believe one of the most important freedoms that the Constitutional Amendments provide is the freedom of speech. I have held that value in high regard as a supervisor as well.

I think there is a fine line between wanting free speech from your employees and trying to restrict it. If you want to receive honest feedback, seek to encourage constructive conflict and cultivate the trust to grow together creatively, then you must encourage an environment where people are free to speak their truth. Even when you don’t like what they say. Especially if you don’t like what they say.

If all you hear is the positive or polished version of your employee’s opinions, it won’t be long before you are missing out on reality. You need your staff to question your decisions, make suggestions as to your process or to disagree with a path you are proposing. In the end, you may do what you wanted to do anyway, but you will be doing it with much more intentionality and wisdom than without the unedited feedback. 

It would make life easier for those at the top to only hear supportive comments and not be questioned. As a manager, if you want “Yes Men” (and women), you can craft an environment or even policies that ensure that is what you get. 

But if you want to cultivate a growth culture in the long term, then the dissenters need to have as valid of hearing as those who think your ideas are brilliant.

beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

#1398 amendment

The U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1787, and the first ten Amendments to it were ratified in 1791, just four years later. In the subsequent 225 years, there have only been a dozen more Amendments.

Not only is this a story about America, I think it is also a model for how most change happens.

It is difficult getting the initial concepts from idea to paper, and then it is often challenging to get that concrete delineation of change ratified. Once something is spelled out in writing, it gains clarity, and often this means that what is made clear by the writer is not what others thought it would be.

Once the idea is approved, details must be decided that were either not thought of or not articulated in the initial proposal. I believe this is akin to the Bill of Rights; things were clarified shortly after passage of the Constitution that were not considered or codified in the initial document. When a new process or program is introduced is when the most decisions must be made, as there is no precedent or clear interpretation of what was intended.

But after a change is in effect for a period, people adjust and understand the parameters and fewer major modifications are required. The change also becomes ingrained; it would be incredibly difficult to abolish or even rewrite the Constitution today.

The next time you are trying to enact a major change, follow the constitutional model. Get approval as soon as you are able for the broad initial constructs. Clarify or amend shortly thereafter to provide the detail necessary for implementation, and then let time take over to help the “change” become accepted as the “normal.”  (This is why “piloting” something works so well; it reduces the barriers to start and inertia takes over to help build momentum towards permanence.)

America is a different place than when the Founders took out their quills and penned the initial document, but the change process remains as consistent as the Constitution itself. Think about that the next time you want to create your own revolution.

beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com


#1397 foundation

I recently was given a copy of the U.S. Constitution. I may have read it before in a high school history class, but it has been a long while since I absorbed the words.  In this politically charged season and with the impending appointment of a new Justice to uphold it, I decided to read it again.


This time, I was struck at how short it really is. The entire nation’s democracy is spelled out in just a few pages, and the relevance has endured for over 200 years. When today it takes thousands of words to craft a legislative act, it is amazing that the Founders were able to outline the structure for the whole democracy in a mere seven articles.

It is a beautiful document, beginning with the Preamble:
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

What do your founding documents say? Maybe today is a good time to take a moment to really read that mission statement or vision document. We may have seen them before, but often they blend into the background and become invisible. Today is a good day to look at them with new eyes and commit to bringing them to life.

beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
leadershipdots@gmail.com


#1396 heavens

Last week, I attended one of the National Weather Service’s training classes and became a certified Storm Spotter. Growing up in the Midwest, I have always had a healthy respect for the weather and particularly heed warnings about severe winds. I don’t plan to become one of the crazies who chase tornadoes and put themselves in harm’s way to get a great photo, but if I could combine curiosity with the ability to help then it seemed to be worth an evening of my time.

We saw some AMAZING videos and learned how to distinguish the elements of cloud patterns. We were taught what indicates potential severity and how to prepare now for more accurate reporting later. We discovered how to read key indicators on radar and what to call in to the Weather Service. 

Mostly, we learned how to be “weather aware” and to interpret what we were already seeing around us. The class gave me the extra layer of knowledge to know what is potentially dangerous and what is not, and to make meaning of the formations that I was looking at every day. I was not a weather junkie, but after just one class I can tell the difference between a wall cloud and a shelf cloud and know which one to call in. In short, the Weather Service connected the dots between clouds and predictions as well as formations and hazards. 

It was stimulating to learn something totally new and something outside of my normal range of experiences. Whether through one of the thousands of on-line resources or through an in-person experience such as this, commit to gain new knowledge that helps you make sense of old experiences. The heavens will open and fill you with wonder.

beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

#1395 infusion

On this Easter holiday, many people are flying home from their destination. There is not much to like about air travel these days, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Southwest Airlines are legendary for their humor and customer service, but this flight attendant takes the pre-flight announcement to a new level. She provides all the Federally required warnings and disclaimers, but does so in a way that causes people to actually listen to what she is saying.

How can you turn your routine into something memorable? Perhaps you can change things through adding humor as in this example, or by telling a story or doing something else to make the bland become interesting. The prescribed pre-flight announcement is given on every flight, every day. If she can find a way to infuse her personality into this, you can hop out of your rut too.

Happy Easter!

beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

#1394 followers

Ten years ago this month, Twitter was launched as a revolutionary new social media platform. Now there are Tweets every moment of every day, sharing experiences from all corners of the globe. Over 300 billion Tweets have been sent since it began, and it is estimated that one-fifth of the Internet users in the United States have Twitter accounts.

Who has the most followers?  According to People, Katy Perry leads the way with 84.4 million, then Justin Bieber with 77.1 million, Taylor Swift with 72.8 million, President Obama with 71.1 million and Rihanna with 57.2 million. 

What I found to be more interesting is the number of people these top Twitter-followed personalities opted to follow themselves: Katy follows 159, Justin 261K, Taylor 245, the President 637K and Rihanna 1,138. Don’t you wonder who the handful of people are that Katy Perry and Taylor Swift follow? 

You don’t need to be a pop celebrity to have influence with your 140 characters. Use Twitter as an electronic postcard; just a quick way to share a thought or to indirectly say “wish you were here.” Those who are following you will probably actually read your Tweets and likely appreciate the sentiment you share.

beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

Sources:
10 Remarkable Twitter Statistics for 2015
10 Years of Twitter!, People, March 28, 2016, p. 33





#1393 rules

I recently went to an art reception that featured several artists. One artist used the same size paper and only a pencil and straight edge to produce a multitude of line drawings. They all had common elements, but also unique aspects that made for beautiful groupings.

As the artist was explaining his work to us, he said that he makes “rules” for himself. For example, he declared for one piece of work that he would only use one-inch lines and that he would create 300 without intersecting. For another piece, he decided to use 50 two-inch lines that did intersect. 

These are arbitrary restrictions, of course, but it introduces an element of discipline that keeps his mind sharp and work interesting. These self-imposed parameters can help keep you focused, and can also provide motivation regarding where to start. 

What rules can you create for yourself, either for today or for longer term? A blog about the first object I see? Responding to ten emails before lunch? Reading 50 pages every day? Writing someone a letter every day during Lent? 

You may think that focus restricts creativity and motivation, but I believe just the opposite. Make yourself a rule for today and then Begin!

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

Thanks to Matt for the inspiration!

#1392 guess

One of the more popular activities this time of year is jelly bean guessing. I have never been too good at it, but I am fascinated with what I learned about the process. 

It turns out that if you ask enough people to guess the number of jelly beans (or any non-random fact), you will arrive close to the correct answer through the average of the whole. It’s a phenomenon known as the Wisdom of Crowds.

In this instance, BBC’s Marcus de Sautoy asked 160 people to guess the number of beans in the jar. Answers ranged from 400 to 50,000! Only four people got “anywhere near” the correct answer. 

But when he averaged all of the answers, he got 4515. The actual: 4510, less than 1% variance from the group guess! It turns out that those who estimate ridiculously low are cancelled out by those whose guess is unrealistically high, and in the end the crowd answer wins.

The science behind this has been applied to more serious endeavors than jelly bean guessing, including locating parameters for lost ships (see Bayesian_search_theory). 

Think of this principle the next time you are tempted to come up with an answer on your own. Although statistics don’t apply for “opinion” questions or value choices, the theory is applicable for settings where you need an answer about something factual. Ask enough people, and you could be much more accurate than if you estimated on your own.

beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

#1391 reference point

There is much written about interviewing and questions that candidates may be asked. What is not as available are resources for people after the interview: those conducting reference checks.

I don’t put too much stock in standard reference checks for deciding whether or not to hire a person as almost everyone can find a few people to say good things about them. But I do them anyway, and always do them myself. I want to hear what the person is not saying as much as what they are.

Mostly I do reference checks to learn more about the person I am planning to hire. Reference checks can be of great value in helping shape how you supervise someone and determining what type of training would be most beneficial for your new employee. Other questions may help you know if your environment or culture is a good fit with the person.

I have developed a list of Reference Check Questions to help you think about the things you ask references about your candidate. I always ask #1: “If I were to become her supervisor, what advice would you give me?” Through that one simple question, I have received many helpful tips that started my relationship right with a new employee.

Hiring someone is one of the most important decisions you can make. Use references checks to not only determine if the candidate is a good fit, but how to make them successful if you do make the offer.

beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com

#1390 back off

I was recently talking with someone who does not have children and she was sharing how grateful she was that her parents were not pressuring her into them. “They understand that they may never be grandparents,” she said, “and that is such a huge relief.”

It got me thinking of all the children that were born because parents felt pressure to have offspring. Whether overtly or through subtle messages, they knew that’s what someone else wanted them to do so they complied.

The same is true for people feeling pressure to get married, either to a specific person or just in general. I also think of the people who chose careers or college majors because someone else made them feel like that is what they should do.

It may have all worked out in the end, but the pressure to go in one direction or another could skew the trajectory of a person’s life. Think of all the changes we would see if no one did something just because they felt pressure to do it.

While you may not be able to remove all the pressure you cause or feel, you can take steps to consciously refrain from imposing your wishes on another and being content with their choices.

Cartoonist Cathy Guisewite wrote a book My granddaughter has fleas!  Like Cathy, may you celebrate the path that others follow, no matter where that may lead.

— beth triplett
leadershipdots.blogspot.com
@leadershipdots
leadershipdots@gmail.com